Saturday, February 24, 2018

Tolerate Me

by Sylvia Gaston

I am a Christian.

I haven’t always been a Christian and was not raised in a Christian home so I came to this lifestyle in a rather different way than most.

When I was about 10 years old, I asked my mom if she would take us to a small nearby church. I cannot recall what piqued my interest about that church or if it was God Himself beckoning me (He does that, you know). She agreed and came with us for a while but then after a time, I remember we often went by ourselves.

It was there in that very small church in that very small town that I first learned about God, about praying, about the Bible. I remember laying in my twin bed one night, particularly upset over the fighting that took place in our home, and asking Jesus to help me with this thing called ‘life’. And, for a while, I was very aware of something bigger than myself watching and guiding and comforting me.

Fast forward to junior high, high school and college. I’m now not so aware of God’s presence probably because we had moved and my church attendance came to an end, as did my interest in Him. But, His pursuit of me did not.

After walking on my own, with better than average success in my life, I felt that familiar beckoning once again; coincidences that I could not explain and people in my path in the most astounding places and ways. It was then, in my 30s, that I made an adult decision to follow Jesus again.

My life after that adult decision is forever changed. My priorities of career, power, and money were replaced with concern for healthy relationships, purpose, and God’s will over my own.

I wish I could tell you that all my problems went away from that point on but they didn’t. That’s not the way it works – ask any Christian. Life’s challenges are still there. Relationships are still hard sometimes. I also seem to have the lifelong job of overcoming some personality traits I’ve developed over a lifetime of coping with difficult situations from my past.

Yet, through it all, I wouldn’t change that adult decision I made long ago. Because, despite the fact that life on this earth will never be perfect, or even easy, I have amazing hope. Hope in a Savior that guides and comforts me. Hope in wisdom from a God who knows all. Hope in what lies beyond my years in this body and on this earth.

I don’t struggle with fear about the future or with what I’m supposed to do next. I have a Counselor and a Protector to decide those things for me.

Living in this current culture of tolerance, I often wonder why there is so little tolerance for Christians. I recognize that not all Christians have represented God well. But, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

When I think of the incredible gifts offered by God the Father, His Son Jesus, and His Holy Spirit, I don’t understand why more aren’t intrigued. His gifts are forgiveness, acceptance, and guidance. He places great value on joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. His overwhelming trait and message to our world is love for all. ALL.

He loves you. He’s beckoning you. 

Hit your knees in prayer or jump into a church to connect with Him. If it’s not a good fit for you, try another and another, if you have to. He has a place for you – a place where you and He will connect and where you will receive the benefit of His unconditional love and purpose for your life.

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